Souk Shopping

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A recent public holiday meant a long weekend in Dubai and this was a chance to spend some time out of the apartment, if the weather wasn’t too hot.  The decision was where would we go and, as usual, expat-grandad chose his favourite place.  Old Diera and down by the creek to the old spice and gold souks and then an abra, a small boat trip costing a Dirham each way, over the creek to the old souk.  We would wander around doing the tourist thing but remembering that this area of Dubai is what Dubai used to be like before the glitz and glamour of the luxury hotels took hold.  It is necessary sometimes to get back to how people used to live, see the wind tower houses made of coral and to be grounded again from the surreal place where we live.

We set off by taxi, as on a public holiday it can sometimes be impossible to find a parking space.  As the time was late morning and having had a swim before we decided to do this, we decided not to frequent the spice and gold souks but to enjoy the ride across the creek and a wander around the old souk on the museum side of the creek.  The creek was awash with the small boats filled with people and the big dhows moored on the side of the creek were well down in the water having been loaded with goods ready for the next tide to sail to wherever they were to be sold.

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The souk was all cobbled streets with a constant wooden roof to offer shade from the sun.  Narrow shops either side, selling everything from light up Burj Khalifas, clothes, handbags and shoes to ‘antique’ swords.  Enough to keep anybody amused and entertained.  It certainly kept expat-grandad entertained for a couple of hours and he doesn’t like shopping.  As usual we were tempted into the various tourist shops by their ‘persuaders’; all good humoured but you do tend to get a little tired of saying ‘no thank you’ as you wander around.  I tell them that I could sell them pashminas as I have a drawer full of different colours.  I always add the phrase, ‘we are not tourists we live here’ a good phrase to know living here as it certainly helps with the price negotiations.  You don’t pay the asking price in the souks, it is expected that the asking price is to be negotiated down.  Expat-grandad is always highly amused by the entertaining banter and resulting prices of any purchases we make.  This day we found fetching outfits for the two teenage grand-daughters for their holidays at a good knock down price.  I start off by halving the asking price then settling at around three quarters of the starting price.

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We ate a wonderful and very healthy Lebanese lunch at our favourite restaurant on the edge of the creek. It has been in existence for all the years we have lived in Dubai and is always consistently good and reasonable.  You must decide to eat before half past twelve though as after that time you would be lucky to get a seat especially if there is a cruise liner docked.  We ate hummus and baba-ghanoush for starters, with Arabic bread followed by a fattoush salad for me, and expat-grandad chose a thai seafood salad.  He prefers Thai food.  We caught an arbra back across the creek, flagged a local taxi down to arrive back home after a good few hours of full entertainment and full tummies.


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